• Published 2nd Dec 2019
  • 819 Views, 158 Comments

Twilight's Reign - James Pwyll

Twilight now rules over Equestria, and she is determined to rule it well

  • ...

A Numbers Game

"I've got to say, Spike, I'm very impressed with you right now."

Her young dragon companion looked up from his desk. "Oh yeah? Why?"

Twilight smiled as she took a step closer to him. "Well, most wouldn't be all that enthusiastic about this kind of work, yet here you are, throwing yourself into it like you were made for it."

Spike chuckled. "Twilight, I'm a dragon raised by ponies. I think we can safely say that I'm never going to be like 'most', can't we?"

Twilight too laughed, giving him a quick pat on the shoulder before glancing down to the open ledger he was looking through. "Still, I'm glad you're not bored by working on things like this. Taxes and national finances aren't exactly going to be drawing in a lot of excitement for ponies."

Spike too looked again to his ledger, as well as to several others that were piled up on the side, all ready to be looked over once he was finished with the current one. It was all neatly-organised and marked and all in their proper places, and as he looked to them he gave a firm nod. "Hey, I'm kinda used to this sort of stuff by now, Twilight." He smirked to her shortly afterwards. "Especially after having lived with you all my life."

Twilight looked to him with some confusion. "Dare I ask what that's supposed to mean?"

A snicker from her advisor. "Well, not to put too fine a point on it, Twilight, but I did a lot more than just writing letters for you while I was living with you. Whether it was here in Canterlot, over at the Golden Oak, the Palace of Friendship, it was always me who sorted out things like this. Not that I blame you or anything. You had a lot on your plate, but that did leave me with a lot of house management while you were researching big magical wonders or going off to save the world."

Twilight arched an eyebrow. "I'll have you know, my dear Spike, that I am not as lacking in matters of money as you think."

A pause, after which Spike started to look somewhat mischievous, which he followed up by picking up his current ledger, turning it around and then showing the open page to Twilight. "Alright then, what do you suggest we do about all of this?"

Twilight glanced at the page, awash with numbers and terms that most ponies would be quite unfamiliar with, and stared at it for some time. After a while, she looked back to Spike, her prior expression of self-assuredness fading just the tiniest bit. "Well...what would you suggest we do? Just so I know that you have a good grasp of this."

Spike rolled his eyes, silently happy at having scored that small victory for himself. But his Princess had asked a question, and he was sure to answer it. "Put simply, it looks like there's a lot of public money devoted to big celebrations like the Grand Galloping Gala and other parties. And we're talking a lot of money here, Twilight. If anypony in the street were to see just how much was spent on them, they'd have a fit."

Twilight giggled. "Oh, Spike, it can't be that expensive." Hearing her, and after looking incredulous, Spike took a small spare piece of parchment, wrote in it quickly, then showed the resulting number to Twilight, whose face suddenly became a bit paler. "Okay...maybe it's a touch dearer than I thought."

Spike sighed. "You want my honest opinion here, Twilight?"

His closest friend looked to him seriously. "You're my royal advisor, Spike. You wouldn't be doing your job if you didn't give it."

Spike nodded. "I think events like this need to be cut back a bit. Have the money sent somewhere...well...where it can do more good than just throwing a party."

Twilight nodded. She understood his reasons, and who could blame him, but even now, she found herself giggling. "Be careful not to let Pinkie hear you say that. Calling other things more important than parties would make you her arch-nemesis."

The two shared a laugh over that, but it ended when Spike again looked to his ledgers. "Well, in any case, we'll need to at least look into ways of making them less expensive than they've been in the past." He then looked to the pages with some concern. "You know, you never really appreciate just how much money goes here and there unless you're here, looking the cold numbers in the face. And we'll also need to take in some of Equestria's newest residents into account when that whole matter comes into its own."

Twilight looked to him with uncertainty. "Hm?"

Spike sighed. "We've got a lot of different people coming into the country in the near-future, Twilight. Yaks, Dragons, Changelings. All these and more will be making a home for themselves in Equestria, living alongside ponies, getting jobs, that sort of thing. And a lot of them come from places where stuff like taxes aren't really, you know, a thing. How are we gonna tell Dragons that they need to part with the money they earn so it can all go together to benefit the nation as a whole? Benefit people they've never met?"

Twilight smiled. "Oh Spike, I'm sure it'll work out."

The small dragon rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes, I know it'll work out, but we need a plan to make it work out! Plans are always your specialty, right? So maybe, I dunno, talk to Princess Ember about explaining the concept to her people before some of them move over?"

Twilight tapped her chin. "Huh. That would have been important to bring up during her last visit."

Spike nodded. "We'll also need to talk about communities in Equestria that haven't been paying at all. The Hoofields and McColts lived and warred for generations without anypony even knowing they were out there. So you can probably bet they haven't been paying taxes either." He grimaced. "I'd hate to think what the reception will be when that lot is told about it."

Twilight laughed, but it was a dry one. "I'm sure they'll listen, but yeah, it won't be pleasant." She then started to ponder. "I do wonder sometimes. All those precious gems we can find just lying around the place, like that gem cave you and Rarity liked to go to? Just pop in there, get as many as we can and use all that to pay for stuff. Might have come in handy when the palace needed rebuilding. Or that huge hoard of gold from that dragon that nearly covered Ponyville's skies in smoke? Who knows how much cash was just left behind there?" Then, after thinking for a while, she sighed deeply again. "Let me guess...wouldn't have worked?"

Another nod from Spike, complete with a smirk. "Got it in one." He started pointing to a few of the numbers on the pages. "Start bringing in lots of gold or jewels and the money we've got suddenly plummet in value. It's like really famous paintings. Pretty expensive because, hey, there's only one of them. Start bringing in lots and, well, suddenly they're not so rare and precious."

Twilight grimaced. "Things are just never easy for us, are they?"

Spike actually seemed amused by that. "Have they ever been?" Again, the two laughed to that, and when they were done the royal advisor again looked to his ledgers. "If it makes you feel any better, Celestia made sure to keep as many accurate records of this stuff as she could, all with Miss Inkwell's help of course. So if there's any problems, it'll be pretty easy for us to spot them and figure out what to do about it."

Nodding slowly, Twilight looked to him with interest. "And...are there any problems I need to worry about?"

Turning a few pages, Spike frowned as he looked to some of the names written down there. "Well, for one thing, it turns out we have a few notable ponies who haven't been paying their due here in Canterlot. Celestia's been keeping track of just how much they've been trying to embezzle or hide away. Well, they think they hid it away at least."

Taking a deep breath, Twilight started looking a little tired. "Shall I assume that these individuals are among the city's aristocracy?"

Spike, looking just as tired as her, gave a nod of confirmation. "Let it never be said you don't know your people."

Twilight shook her head. "Well then, guess I need to bring the matter up the next time I see them. I'll ask Miss Inkwell to arrange a meeting as soon as possible."

Here, Spike smirked. "You know, you could always have Tempest with you during the meeting. It might help your side of the discussions if the Royal Guard's new, no-nonsense trainer was accompanying you."

Twilight looked like she was taken aback by that. "Spike! Are you suggesting that I threaten my own subjects?!"

Spike shook his head, not at all concerned with the accusation. "No, no, no! Not at all! Just...have here there. Standing right beside you, never saying a word. " He smirked to her. "And let the nobles' imaginations and paranoia do the rest."

After blinking a couple of times, Twilight matched his look of mischievousness. "You know...I think getting you involved with politics here was my best decision yet."

Spike shrugged. "Well, I wasn't gonna say it."

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